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What’s in a Name? A bay in New Zealand


Every year there is a yacht race, at the height of summer, from Tauranga in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty (as Cook called it), to Whitianga at the head of Mercury Bay (as Maori called it 400 years earlier).


One of the yachts in the 2018 race, skippered by Gus Caundle, anchored for the night in January, just inside Mercury Bay, only 300 metres or so from where Endeavour was moored 249 years earlier.  His boat was called named Rascal Tom.


Within a few minutes, another yacht joined him. Gus was surprised to see its name on the stern, The Rascal.  So he penned this little poem.

In waters calm with ebbing sun
Two rascals met and spliced a rum
Near where Cook landed, they did survey
And named the anch’rage Two Rascals Bay.


His poem was published in the local paper the next week, followed immediately by this letter to the editor.
Then since he was a doctor, the locals started calling it Doctor’s Bay and some rocks nearby as Mooring Rocks, because this is where the old scows used to moor before proceeding up the Purangi River on a high tide.
Dear Sir. When my father bought the land surrounding this little bay 60 years ago, he called it Waihora Bay, meaning “spreading waters”.


But they were all forgetting a couple of even earlier rascals—the Endeavour’s Lieutenant Gore with his musket, and a Maori rascal who stole Gore’s piece of cloth on virtually the same spot, and paid for it with his life.


So it ain’t Two Rascals Bay after all.  And it ain’t Doctor’s Bay.  And it ain’t Waihora Bay.  It’s Four Rascals Bay.

Four Rascals Bay is located immediately to the left of the Transit of Mercury cairn in this shot, inside the headland.

John Steele

Originally published in Cook's Log, page 15, volume 41, number 2 (2018).

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